Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mexico: The elusive truth about safety
If you happened to watch the news or pick up a newspaper (or even just leave the house) this past week, you probably got hit with the flood of news about escalating violence in Mexico's drug war. CNN sent Anderson Cooper to El Paso, Texas, where he reported live in his full war-safari outfit. Larry King had the actor Edward James Olmos telling viewers "don't go to Mexico"—not tourist towns, not megaresorts, not anywhere.

But wait a minute: One of our colleagues here at BT just spent the same week in Tulum, doing a lot of beach-bumming and generally enjoying Mexico as never before. No sooner did she return than another friend of mine set off for Tulum. And yet another just got back from five days in Playa del Carmen. None of them has reported anything out of the ordinary.

There's a disconnect, it seems, between what the pundits are saying and what some vacationers are seeing on the ground in major tourist areas. The last thing we should do right now is belittle a very serious and tragic situation with the warring drug cartels. But what's the reality for travelers? Is the unrest a legitimate reason not to fly to a major international resort? How much has it spread beyond border areas and cartel hotbeds like the Sinaloa state?
Mexico's drug war doesn't add up as a safety threat to tourists | Los Angeles Times
I recently booked a May round-trip Alaska Airlines flight to and from Cabo San Lucas for a base price of $150.00. The after-tax rate of $249 is perhaps the lowest I've paid for a trip to Land's End in 20 years.

Of course if you've watched the news, you know that Mexico is now ruled entirely by drug lords and crooked cops. I'll have to dodge bullets, inspect shadows for kidnappers and check my fish cooler for human heads.

But sometimes you just have to let caution fly and have some fun....

Seriously, the U.S. media, despite admirable coverage of most aspects of Mexico's high-profile drug war, have frightened thousands into believing they face certain peril if they set foot in Mexico.

In truth, many stand at least as good a chance of becoming a murder victim in or near their own communities.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Not a reason to avoid Mexico
During the past three months, Acapulco and Cancún have had sporadic violence and drug-related homicides. However, as in many large U.S. cities, the violence is between gangs and law enforcement and is not in tourist areas. Tourists have not been targeted.

Thousands of spring-break visitors have poured into Cancún, Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta as usual, with Mexican authorities stepping up patrols and vigilance to ensure safety in the tourist towns.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Costa Maya: Mexico's much visited, little known tourist region
MAHAHUAL, Mexico — They appear out of nowhere like a heat-addled mirage on the flat, straight, mangrove-fringed road. The first sign of humanity in 40 miles, the tourists have ripened to pink under the glare of the tropical sun, with their legs wrapped around shiny red all-terrain vehicles buzzing down the asphalt like one giant invasive insect.

It's a strange sight, all right. But it's eclipsed moments later by an even stranger one. Looming on the Caribbean just beyond the end of the road is the world's largest cruise ship, the Independence of the Seas, harboring a bounty of 3,811 passengers.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What is REALLY Happening in MEXICO?
TORONTO, ONTARIO -- 03/23/09 -- Today the Mexico Tourism Board and itravel2000 announced an innovative program to address the confusion created by recent media reports about Mexico.

In the past weeks, reports of problems in towns on the U.S. and Mexico board relating to Drug Cartel violence created a perception with consumers that all of Mexico, including favorite sun and beach destinations were all dangerous to travel to even though the destinations like Cancun and the Riviera Maya are over 3000kms away from the affected border cities.

To address the confusion, a project entitled "What is REALLY Happening in MEXICO?" has been launched that features an independent regular traveller, Scott Sheehan, visiting popular destinations in Mexico and interviewing real consumers on their experiences. Interviews, pictures and stories are hosted on a web blog www.whatisreallyhappeninginmexico.com.
TV Blamed for Fear of Mexico
Recently, my daughter, Pauline, tangled with a famous television talk-show host on the question of tourism to Mexico - and held her own.

If you will go to www.crooksandliars.com and search for the term "Mexico" in the upper-right-hand corner of the site, you'll find an item asking why the cable networks are attempting to scare tourists away from Mexico. And there you can find a five-minute debate raging between my daughter, Pauline, and a famed television talk-show host who customarily hogs the entire discussion, talks endlessly and without letup, and scarcely allows his guests to utter a single word.

The subject: Whether it is safe for American students (and logically, any American of any age) to vacation in Mexico.

For the past several weeks, many cable networks have devoted segments to hyping the alleged dangers of vacationing in Mexico.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Spring Equinox Memory
The vernal equinox (which came at 7:44 this morning) is a powerful event for me, maybe the most powerful of the year, astrologically speaking. It's powerful because it's attached to a memory, a strange, sweet, strong memory. Care to hear a story?

My junior year of college, I spent spring break in Cancun with my boyfriend Rob. I was excited for the clear waters and the white sands, but as a religious studies major, I was extra excited because we were going to be there during the vernal equinox--"there" meaning at Chichen Itza, the astounding Mayan temple that's just a short bus ride inland from the beach parties of Cancun at spring break.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Texas students crowd Cancun for spring break
CANCUN — With a travel advisory and the recession, you might expect fewer Texas college students to be celebrating spring break in Mexico this year. But it seems that nothing can stop spring break.

"Actually, we have more people coming to Cancun," said T.J. Eaton of StudentCity.com, a Web site that organizes student travel to Mexico. "Our numbers are better."
Explore Mexico's coastal cities for budget vacations
All the travel warnings for Mexico have a lot of travelers concerned about heading south of the border.

Michelle Donati of AAA Arizona says Mexico is still a safe option as long as you exercise caution and common sense.

Mexico’s affordability makes it a popular destination for Arizonans, and locations such as Cancun, Cabo and Mazatlan are likely to draw in a lot of travelers this spring and summer.

But when it comes to these Mexican vacation spots, knowing the differences in locations can help you make an informed decision as to which one is best for you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In Mexico, get ready to explore
Not so long ago, a winter vacation south to a Mexican resort involved little else than a beach chair, sunscreen and cut-up limes for the cerveza. The really adventurous might have packed an English-Spanish dictionary.

Sure, maybe a little golf, fishing and trinket shopping, but for the better part of a half-century, winter-weary Canadians flew south to Mexican beach resorts for one reason, and one reason only. The beach.

That started to change in the waning years of the 20th century for a number of reasons, among them baby boomers seeking activities more physically demanding than Marco Polo and table tennis.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mexico’s Innovative and Scenic Ports Unite at The Sea Trade
A very optimistic future is on its way for the Mexican Cruise industry with a grand infrastructure plan that includes building 13 new cruise installations in both established and newcomer destinations: Puerto Cortes, Cabo San Lucas, Loreto, Guaymas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Punta Brava. Two of the installations, one in Puerto Vallarta, were inaugurated last year. Cruise ships started arriving at Guaymas’ new pier and terminal in October of 2008. Another development in Mazatlan is under construction, as well as in Manzanillo, which is in the bidding stages and a new terminal for Acapulco is also scheduled for 2009.
The Mexico Tourism Board Swings Into Action At the 2009 Sony Ericsson Open
Miami, FL; March 12th, 2009 – The Mexico Tourism Board is proud to announce its participation in this year’s 2009 Sony Ericsson Open on March 25- April 5. Celebrating it’s 25th year, the Sony Ericsson Open returns to the Tennis Center at Crandon Park featuring the top 77 men and the top 76 women, tennis players from around the globe.

Fans will live the passion of this exciting outdoor sport and then follow the ball to the best beach destinations in Mexico .Los Cabos, Cancun, Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit, Mazatlán, Acapulco, Huatulco and Ixtapa are among the dazzling destinations that will be showcased during this year’s Sony Ericsson Tennis Open. Tennis enthusiasts will be instantly transported to Mexico’s beach destinations through a fashion show featuring the latest in fashion, music, and guests will enjoy a variety of themed Mexican cocktails.
Strengthening dollar good for travelers
Who would have thought it? While Wall Street plunges, the U.S. dollar surges. And that wholly unexpected rise in the value of the dollar is the biggest news in travel. It has more of an impact on your vacation choices than any other single factor.

The extent of the rise is startling. While most of us are aware that the dollar has risen against the euro and the British pound by 20 to 30 percent, the dollar is up against other currencies by 40 to 50 percent. And it is in countries whose currencies have fallen by startling percentages that a vacation trip has become most affordable for U.S. travelers.

Mexico leads the list. A year or so ago, you received 10 pesos for one U.S. dollar. Today, you receive more than 15 pesos for a dollar. Drug-related violence in Mexico is mostly confined to cities along the U.S. border, leaving the tourist areas (Cancun, the Mayan Riviera, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas) largely untroubled, so Mexico should receive an increasing number of U.S. vacationers.

Friday, March 13, 2009

United's Sun Sale: Flights to Mexico from $113
If you're craving the sun and need some sand between your toes, book flights to Mexico and the Caribbean as part of United 'Sun Sale.'

Book flights to Mexico from $113 each way (excluding taxes). Example fares include Chicago flights to Cancun from $113
Mexico's resorts still popular for spring break
The hottest destination for spring break is Mexico, say many travel bookers, because of the dollar's strength against the peso, the drinking age (18) and the country's many bargain all-inclusive resorts.

Cancun, the Riviera Maya and Los Cabos are in demand. However, violence linked to drug cartels has been making headlines, prompting some cancellations, warnings by universities and the impression that South of the Border is the Wild West now.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

LMFAO Heat Up ME in Cancun
LMFAO front man, Redfoo, might have the IT song of Spring Break 09, but still couldn't 'close' after performing for a private MTV concert at Rande Gerber's Maxim Beach at the ME Cancun hotel.

The front man stayed at the hotel's Maxim Beach bar until closing-- but retired to the presidential suite alone.

On the other hand Flo Rida, who also attended the party, spent the night surrounded by 20 girls but didn't share with his 3 man entourage who were forced to only look on from a distance. Sharing is sharing Flo!

At the ME resort in Cancun, everything revolves around you!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mexico Tourist Areas Safe, Hotels Say
Tourist areas in Mexico are safe for American visitors, local tourist and U.S. government officials say. ”We recognize that there is concern over the drug trafficking violence in our country,” says Jorge Apaez, president for Mexico for UK-based hotel giant Inter-Continental Hotels group, which owns brands like Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza. “However, they are taking place in specific areas, not throughout our country…We’re not trying to hide our situation, but you can’t generalize.”

Already, several thousands of American spring breakers are visiting Mexico without problems, he adds.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Robust international passenger traffic at Cancún boosts Mexico's ASUR in February
MEXICO. Airports group ASUR (Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste) has reported a -2.2% drop in passenger traffic in February, compared to the same month a year earlier. The company attributed the drop to February 2009 featuring one day fewer than 2008, which was a leap year. Total passenger numbers were 1.54 million.

International passenger traffic bucked the downward trend, posting growth of +2.8%, driven by ASUR’s major location, Cancún International Airport. Cancún had a +4.2% increase in international traffic, with passenger numbers hitting 961,078.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Residents of Mexico city coexist with crocodiles
At least 65 crocodiles throng the 200-acre Laguna Carpintero — Carpenter’s Lake — a short walk from Tampico’s central square.

Unknown legions more thrive in the wetlands and estuaries on the city’s fringe, where new residential neighborhoods march right up to the water’s edge.

“They’ve gone from being just one more inhabitant of the lagoon to being icons of the city,” Mario Castellanos, a municipal biologist, said of the pampered pride of Tampico, an oil refining and port city 250 miles south of the Texas border.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

LA Escapes Examiner: Spring break in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
When I visited Playa del Carmen for the first time a decade ago, the city was nothing more than a patch of dirt with a few scattered huts next to the ocean. Ten years later, Playa del Carmen is a gorgeous resort town that provides a great alternative to Cancun’s crazy party scene.

Playa del Carmen, located on the Caribbean, is a 30-45 minute drive from Cancun airport that shouldn’t cost you more than $20 a person for a taxi. Playa del Carmen’s climate is warm, humid and tropical with cool and refreshing beach waters. This is a beach vacation, so pack your swimsuit and beach accoutrements.
US travelers told Mexican violence 'localized'
"We notice that many of the violent activities are localized in several different places. They are not general across the north of Mexico, let alone through ... the entire country," State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said.

As students prepare their annual spring break from studies, concerns have grown about the safety of popular Mexican getaways such as Cancun and Acapulco, which traditionally swarm with hedonistic students each March.

Duguid said violence was "not systematic throughout the country."

In February, the State Department warned travelers of the risk posed by increased violence, particularly along the US-Mexico border.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Going Places - Adventure travel latest trend for family vacations
One of the challenges facing parents when planning a family vacation is being able to find a destination that will feature enough fun activities to please everyone while also offering opportunities to learn something new.

This is why the latest trend in family getaways is adventure vacations. These high energy, action-packed holidays have gained popularity with parents, especially when choosing sunny destination vacations for their families.

One of the most popular family adventure travel destinations available these days is Cancun in the Mexican Caribbean for its countless adventure and ecotourism tours.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Travel Still Safe to Major Tourist Hubs in Mexico
On February 20, 2009, the U.S. Department of State issued a travel alert to those visiting Mexico, warning of increased violence and drug-related conflicts in several areas. The alert states, in part, “While millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year (including thousands who cross the land border every day for study, tourism or business), violence in the country has increased recently.”

Travel agents should be aware that the most noteworthy crimes are taking place in border towns including Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez and the city of Chihuahua. The most popular tourist destinations, including Cancun, the Riviera Maya, Los Cabos, and Puerto Vallarta, remain safe for visitors.